Child Psychology and Behaviour

Effects of Bullying on Preteens and Teens

Shikha Batra
7 to 11 years

Created by Shikha Batra
Updated on Sep 14, 2020

Effects of Bullying on Preteens and Teens
Reviewed by Expert panel

“Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror, you fatso!” 

“You can’t even dance, you are such a loser!”

“ When was the last time you brushed your teeth? Don’t even open your mouth you stinky!”

Or

A mean child smacking down a smaller boy’s lunch box spilling his food during lunch break. 

A strong built girl grabbing another girl by her hair and pulling her down from the swing in the playground.

 

Above stated are These are some of the examples of verbal and physical assault by the bullies to bully their targets. Bullying might involve repeated exposure of one person to physical and/or verbal aggression including name-calling, teasing, mockery, threats, taunting, harassment, excluding someone from a group on purpose spreading rumours, etc. It can occur during school or after school hours, in the playground, while travelling to or from school in the school bus, cafeteria, hallways, in the neighbourhood, online etc. 

 

Bullying is an unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school-aged children which is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time. It might involve real or perceived power imbalance wherein the bully uses his/her physical strength, embarrassing information, popularity, identity to control the target i.e. person being bullied. Bullies are often mean, aggressive, spiteful and confrontational, lack the ability to empathise and they usually exhibit impulsive behaviour.

 

Although bullying is prevalent since ages, it is only over the last few decades it is being widely acknowledged to be an issue of serious public health concern which affects children and adolescents from across the globe. Bullying not only negatively impacts the one being bullied but also the one who bullies and those who witness bullying. If asked who is harmed when bullying occurs. Strangely, the answer would be everyone.

 

Impact on children and adolescents who are bullied: 

Bullying can have serious consequences on the victims as they can experience negative physical, social, emotional, academic as well as mental health issues. They might experience:

  • Depression

  • Changes in sleep pattern

  • Changes in eating pattern

  • Symptoms of anxiety

  • Bedwetting

  • Become emotionally withdrawn

  • Low self-esteem

  • Feelings of shame

  • Avoiding going to school

  • Increased feelings of loneliness and sadness

  • Unable to enjoy the activities they once did

  • Psychosomatic symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, muscle aches etc. with no known medical cause

  • Academic underachievement

  • Anger and rage

 

Impact of  bullying on bullies:

Children and adolescents who are bullies are at an increased risk of experiencing depression and anxiety disorders. They might also experience: 

  • Substance abuse such as alcohol and other drugs

  • Getting into fights

  • Engage in sexual behaviour at a young age

  • Vandalize property

  • Drop out of school

  • Be abusive towards their partners, spouses or children as adults

  • Increased risk of problems with the law.

 

Impact of bullying on bystanders who witness bullying: 

Children and adolescents who witness bullying may be as much at risk psychologically as the victims and the bullies. Witnessing someone being bullied creates a wide range of emotions and stresses which can take a toll on the bystander. These emotions can range from:

  • Anxiety

  • Uncertainty

  • Fear

  • Guilt

Bystanders are afraid of becoming the next target if they come to the victim’s defense so they remain silent. Others are fearful that they will be rejected or made fun of if they stand for the victim.


Role of parents in preventing bullying

Parents play a crucial role in addressing and prevention of bullying. They can empower their children by letting them know the various ways they can put an end to bullying.

Some of the effective ways to keep children from being bullied and from becoming bullies include:

  • Ensure your children grow up in loving relationships. We should be aware that our children are always watching us. So we need to model positive parenting. Avoid the use of power to control your child as s/he will feel that is the right way to deal with others and would use power over others or would let others use power over him/her.

  • Teaching social skills to your child such as effective communication, conflict resolution, active listening, empathy, respecting others.

  • Model tolerance and maintaining relationship skills by teaching them to get along with others and deal with disagreements in respectful and assertive ways. Parents can help their children be more inclusive and understanding by thinking about other children's perspectives.

  • Avoiding the use of derogatory language themselves and teaching children it is not OK to use terms to demean or make fun of others.

  • Be engaged and show warmth. Holding conversations with your child everyday will keep you abreast with things happening in your child’s life. Also, it would increase the likelihood of your child coming to you for help and advice.

  • Monitoring by keeping a check on your child’s texts, apps, computer history would also help you be aware of if your child is being bullied or is bullying others.

  • Encourage your child to speak up if they experience, see or suspect bullying.

  • Encourage your children to participate in activities of their interests, hobbies, which will boost their confidence.

  • Learning about bullying and being familiar with its prevention policies, at your child’s school.

 

Preventing and stopping bullying involves creating an environment wherein children can thrive peacefully without being afraid. Bullying demands coordinated time and attention of parents, families, teachers, school administration, health care providers, policymakers and all those involved in taking care of children and adolescents. Similarly, it is not easy to watch someone being bullied. So it becomes important that the school provides tools so that witnesses could anonymously report bullying. 

 

Please share valuable inputs and feedback in the comments section below. 

 

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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